A big population of the world live under the fear of dying. Many people get offended when you talk about death! It is easily the taboo topic in any community.
I always had a fear of death as far back as I can remember. I feared being anywhere near hospitals. The morgues were a no-go-zone area for me, and when possible, I skipped funerals, including those of family members.
Fortunately, the spiritual transformation that happened later in my life, wiped out this disturbing fear!
Around this time, I came across persons who had clinically been pronounced dead but lived to tell the story. Their near death experiences lit something in me. It was like an ‘aha’ moment!
I started researching on the phenomenon of death. I set out on a discovery mission to know where I came from or who I was.
A gradual spiritual revelation of my identity in this universe, contributed to an eventual erosion of many of my fears including the fear of death!
John 8:32 (NIV) Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
I can only compare my moment of realisation to that of a story of baby eagle! The young eagle realised that it didn’t have to live in the confining chicken nesting enclosure it was raised in! It had freedom to fly away for it wasn’t a chicken!
I discovered that death is nothing, but a ticket to our eternal home. This assurance, is still embedded in my spirit to this day. Since becoming a true believer in God the Creator of all there is in the cosmos, I have purposed to live in humility, as a spiritual being in a temporary body, and not as a chest-thumping physical being, who lives in a misery of loneliness, trusting in everything else, other than the Giver of life itself!
We are spiritual beings, made in the image of the Creator, Who is a Spirit! Once out of our bodies, we are like infants, and at the mercy of spiritual beings, in the spiritual world! A fact that explains why some persons in palliative care and are about to die, suddenly light up, and start smiling at beautiful beings they can see through the walls of their room. Another group of people beg nurses, doctors and caregivers, not to let them be taken away by spiritual beings they can see waiting for them to die! Where do you think the second group of people is headed to? Your guess is as good as mine! I am sorry we have to talk about serious stuff!
The bodies that we stubbornly worship, and hang onto, are made of organic materials that decay back to earth after our spirit departs!
The following three scriptures, summarize my complete understanding of who I am and the meaning of death.
John 4:24 (NLT) for God is Spirit…
Genesis 1:27 (NIV) So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female …
Ecclesiastes 12:7 (NIV) and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
Our soul is a spirit made in the image of God. I believe the soul is breathed into our body by our Creator at some stage during fetal development.
The soul is made with an everlasting consciousness, has complete functions of knowledge and has all senses that we know of! The body was made for the soul while here on earth and not the other way round! The soul does not need the body to function or exist. However, when in a body, its functions are filtered to what the body has to offer including intellect. The functions are also limited by how well the body can execute them. That’s why we have people who have limited abilities. This does not mean that their souls are impaired in any way! You could be blind, deaf or have other bodily impairment, but the soul isn’t, it has to put up with that for the duration of time it’s in that body!
I heard an interesting true story of this woman who was born blind. She was involved in a car accident and her soul popped out of her body! Guess what? She could see! She saw her body that had been taken to the hospital lying on a bed as it went through an operation. She saw trees and people outside as her soul hovered above the hospital roof. She eventually went back to her body but was unfortunately confined again to her visually-impaired body. This lady is still blind to this day!
When is a human dead?
I have heard people, including the non-spiritual say, “He is gone or she is gone!”. Meaning that a person had died and the spirit has left the body. This is the perfect description of death. I don’t need to elaborate further!
Once the spirit is gone, the body grows cold and as expected a few hours later, the process of decay starts. Within months or years the flesh however good looking, turns into dust, and becomes part of the earth.
First Death Experience involves the body
Ecclesiastes 12:7 (NLT) For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. The word spirit in this scripture refers to the human soul.
During the first death, the human soul does not die with the body. It lives on and goes back to the Creator who gave it the body!
Second Death Experience involves the soul
When the soul leaves the human body and goes back to the Creator, it is then destined to enjoy life in happiness or spent eternity in a non-consuming painful fire and torment which is the second death!
Revelation 21:3-4 (NIV)
…”…God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Revelation 21:8 (NIV) But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
These are the kind of deaths I knew of or envisioned. The first death, that is, the demise of the body and the second death, that is the damnation of the soul or what we simply call, going to hell.
However, there are people who went away without experiencing death of the body!
As interesting as it may sound, some human bodies didn’t remain here on earth but were taken to heaven together with the soul. How this happens is beyond human understanding. There are three examples we know in the bible. Jesus, was one of them, but He faced physical death first, where he died, was buried, but rose again on the third day, with his body! Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah, and Elijah, the prophet who opposed Jezebel!
Their bodies were transitioned with the souls to the next world.
Genesis 5:24 (NIV) Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.
2 Kings 2:11 (NIV) As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.
Acts 1: 9 (NIV) After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
What are Near Deaths or Out of Body Experience?
Another phenomenon of death is a near death experience! This is when the spirit pops out of the body but comes back. Persons who experienced this, reported that they retained their consciousness and knowledge when out of the body. Something that is not scientifically possible since science expects consciousness to be powered by the brain. Unfortunately, to those who swear by science, consciousness is a spiritual function and does not need the brain to exist!
Witnesses on the ground have reported bodies of many people as dead and their life supporting machines recording no data. These people have come back and told tales of being in a state of absolute consciousness during this time!
No doubt that Near Death Experiences confirm to us some truths about the next life.
It seems like Apostle Paul experienced the same in the following scripture.
2 Corinthians 12:2-4 [TLB] …Fourteen years ago I was taken up to heaven for a visit. Don’t ask me whether my body was there or just my spirit, for I don’t know; only God can answer that. But anyway, there I was in paradise…
Many people who go through a near death experience (NDE) describe things similar to Paul’s. Some of them also go to a paradise while others go to hell.
Another story in the bible about the spirit going to paradise and hades is the story of Lazarus and the rich man. It is a fascinating story in Luke 16 from verse 19.
It is interesting that in yet another dramatic story captured before Jesus died, we have an unexpected guest in paradise. This is one of the criminals crucified with Jesus. He was pardoned by Jesus at the last moment of his life while hanging on the cross. He was expected in paradise that very day. Since the body was not expected to go anywhere after the criminal died, Jesus must have addressed the person (soul) in the body. “Luke 23: 39“…Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
I can only imagine the joy these people felt as they stepped into paradise after their souls popped out of their bodies.
The popping out of the human spirit from the body is clearly demonstrated by Jesus’ death. Matthew 27:50 (NIV) And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. The spirit here is small ‘s’ meaning the soul in His human body.
What happened to the stubborn spirit from the first criminal? Where did the spirit go?
More Stories On Near Death Experiences
Our believe in Christ should be based on the bible only. We can judge what we hear and see just to make sure that all is in line with the bible teaching to avoid entertaining lying spirits that come as angels of light. 1 Timothy 4:1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons
We are advised in the bible to discern the spirit behind what we receive.
1 John 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
I have never had a near death experience personally but my research led me to some very detailed experiences that seem to confirm what is in the scriptures. I have read with fascination the experiences of many people who were never keen on the spiritual or religion before their near death experiences!
I sincerely hope that what I have written in this article has been of much help to your understanding of death and leads you to a life of spiritual freedom!
One of the best sources of researched stories on near death experience is in the NDERF website. Please check it out!
May the Almighty God richly bless you.
[Article Author: Joseph GM]